Stephen S. Poloz on the “Teachable moments” from the pandemic

Stephen S. Poloz, Governor of Bank of Canada since 2013, stated in his speech on 4 May 2020 that the pandemic offers a “teachable moment”. He lists the following as lessons for central banking from this teachable moment:

  1. Use scenarios, but focus on the narrative they represent. Avoid numbers when uncertainty is extreme, as they can generate a cloud of possibilities that many will struggle to understand.
  2. Make sure everyone understands your goals. Everything you do needs to have an explicit purpose and be part of a coherent framework.
  3. Crisis conditions argue for vigorous, even outsized, responses because maintaining confidence is critical to the recovery; gradualism is unlikely to succeed.
  4. Coordinated policy actions are more powerful than stand-alone ones. That coordination may be domestic, or international.

And the following are the lessons on the leadership/management front:

  • Diversity of past experience pays when blazing a new trail.
  • Crises are exhausting-a deep personnel bench is a key part of resilience.
  • Over-invest in technology and business continuity preparedness.
  • Stay in touch with staff-even the ordinary things must still happen.

© G Sreekumar 2021

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